dreadedcandiru2 (dreadedcandiru2) wrote,

How Understanding Comics leads to understanding Elly.

About twenty years or so ago, a man named Scott McCloud created a sort of illustrated history of the comics medium called "Understanding Comics." At one point in the book, he postulated that one of the reasons that people so readily identify with the sort of simplified and stylized images we see in the four-panel world is that while we have a fairly accurate mental picture of what others look like, our mental image of our own faces are, well, broad-strokes caricatures. The reason that I mention this is that the crippling neurological defect that makes Elly look in a mirror and see some bloated, ugly, worthless wretch with no self control prevents her from understanding how other people actually see her. As we see in this strip, she's both horrified and intrigued by seeing the Elly Patterson normal people actually see. She's intrigued because she wants to know why people state that she's some skinny little thing with bad posture and horrified because they're in the right.

This failure to know what other people see doesn't, of course, merely make her a shining mark for any charlatan peddling a quack diet; it also renders her a less effective parent than she would otherwise be. As I've said before, she doesn't know what her own face looks like when she's talking to her children so she doesn't realize that despite not especially wanting to do so, she makes it look as if everything she wants her kids to do is because she wants to punish them for something or other. Factor in her inability to accurately remember that she is too damned easily provoked for her own good and her just plain not having it in her to enjoy anything and you start to see why it is that Elly sort of ricocheted from one argument to the next.
Tags: elly on her cross, elly patterson: universal imbecile., elly versus her family

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